● FL-Sen: PPP takes another look at the general election on behalf of the Democratic consulting firm EDGE Communications, and they give incumbent Bill Nelson a 48-46 lead over Republican Rick Scott. PPP's April poll found Nelson ahead by a stronger 50-44 margin, though the senator has been subjected to tens of millions of dollars of negative advertising since then.
● ND-Sen: Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's campaign is up with a positive ad that surprisingly cites Daily Kos to make the argument that she's one of the most effective senators and a "force for rural America." Among other things, the narrator praises her for "roll[ing] back EPA wetland rules," while the on-screen text cites the Grand Forks Herald and Daily Kos as its sources. (We believe this may be the post the spot was referring to, though it only mentions Heitkamp in literally the last line.)
We don't wind up in too many TV campaign ads, especially in red states, but this actually isn't the first time it's happened. In the 2016 Louisiana Senate race, Democrat Foster Campbell featured a newspaper-style headline from something called "The Daily Kos" that utilized a line we wrote criticizing one of his intra-party opponent's TV spots. (We weren't a newspaper then, and we're not one now. Also, just like there's no "I" in team, there's no "the" in Daily Kos.)
Heitkamp's allies at the Senate Majority PAC have also launched a $109,000 buy. Their new spot (which does not mention Daily Kos) argues that Republican Kevin Cramer is running "a campaign obsessed with nasty attacks against" Heitkamp instead of talking about how he could help the state. The narrator then declares that Heitkamp is the "most conservative Democrat in Washington," while charging Cramer with increasing the deficit, saying he wants to cut Medicare and Social Security to pay for it.
● WV-Sen: Senate Majority PAC is spending another $180,000 to help Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
● FL-Gov: On behalf of their usual client, Fox News, the bipartisan team of Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research takes a look at the Aug. 28 GOP primary. They give state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam a 32-17 lead over Rep. Ron DeSantis, which is pretty similar to the 32-15 lead that the GOP firm Cherry Communications recently found for the pro-Putnam Florida Chamber of Commerce.
However, DeSantis' most prominent supporter wasn't deterred by his showing. On Friday morning, a day after the poll dropped, Donald Trump tweeted that DeSantis "will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!" Back in December, before DeSantis announced he was in, Trump tweeted that was an awesome guy who "would make a GREAT Governor of Florida." Some Republicans apparently didn't actually think that was a real endorsement because Trump didn't use the word "endorsement" back then, but this latest missive removes any ambiguity.
Despite his meh showing in this last pair of polls, DeSantis may have a lot of room to grow. While Putnam has been airing commercials for a while, the congressman will begin his ad campaign on Monday. Politico says that Putnam and his allied political committees hold a $14 million to $10 million cash-on-hand lead over DeSantis' forces, so both sides will have a lot of cash to throw around over the next two months.
Meanwhile, PPP is out with a general election survey for EDGE Communications, which supports wealthy former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. They find Levine leading DeSantis 41-36 and Putnam 43-38, respectively; they did not release matchups for any of the other Democratic candidates. PPP's April poll found Levine beating DeSantis and Putnam 42-37 and 41-37, respectively.
P.S. Candidate filing closed Friday for Florida's state-level races; the deadline to run for Congress passed in early May (we have no idea why the state has two different deadlines even though both primaries are on Aug. 28). You can find a list of candidates here. There were no surprises in the race for governor on either side.
● HI-Gov: The state chapter of Unite Here!, which represents 11,000 workers in hospitality, health, and food services, endorsed Gov. David Ige on Thursday ahead of the August Democratic primary.
● NH-Gov: Candidate filing closed earlier this month for New Hampshire's Sept. 11 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here. The deadline to run as a major-party candidate for the U.S. House has passed in all but three states: Rhode Island, Delaware, and Louisiana.
GOP Gov. Chris Sununu only narrowly won his first two-year term in 2016, but polls consistently give him high marks with voters. However, New Hampshire is prone to dramatic swings, and Sununu can't rest easy in a year that's looking tough for his party. The Democratic establishment has consolidated behind former state Sen. Molly Kelly; her only primary foe is former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, who lost the 2016 primary 51-25.
Campaign finance reports are also out for all the candidates. Sununu raised $664,000 from Dec. 6 to June 20, and he had $485,000 on-hand. Kelly took in $462,000 since she entered the race in early April, and she had $310,000 in the bank. Marchand took in $114,000 since December and had a $26,000 war chest.
● SC-Gov: Is the governor of South Carolina truly McMaster of his domain ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary runoff? Wealthy businessman John Warren is out with a Fabrizio Lee poll giving himself a 46-42 lead over Gov. Henry McMaster.
McMaster and his allies have been dramatically outspending Warren on TV and radio, and Palmetto PAC is out with two new spots (here and here). The first commercial argues Warren is a "predatory lender," and it concludes with footage of Donald Trump endorsing McMaster. The other ad features footage of Warren saying he would "disagree with President Trump with the tariffs," with the narrator arguing that "Weak Johnny Warren" won't stand up to "Communist China." Of course, they don't mention that McMaster unsuccessfully tried to persuade Trump not to put tariffs on some products that could hurt Samsung, the South Korean giant that recently opened a home appliance hub in the state.
Warren's allies at Palmetto Prosperity PAC are firing back with a spot arguing that McMaster is a career politician who is too close to corrupt South Carolina politicos. The commercial is intercut several times with a clip of the governor channeling singer Tim McGraw and declaring, "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it."
● WI-Gov: On Friday, state Rep. Dana Wachs announced that he was dropping out of the August Democratic primary and endorsing state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. A recent Marquette poll found Wachs taking just 2 percent, while Evers led with 25 percent.
Meanwhile, businessman and fellow Democrat Andy Gronik pulled the plug on Thursday, and he threw his support behind former state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys the next day.
● AL-02: On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement for Rep. Martha Roby ahead of her July 17 primary runoff with former Rep. Bobby Bright. Trump's tweet characterized Bright, who was a conservative Democrat during his one term, as "a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat," and called Roby "a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda."
Trump's support could be incredibly helpful for Roby, who enraged local conservatives in 2016 when she said she wouldn't vote for Trump after the Access Hollywood tape emerged. While Roby cozied up to Trump after the election, she still took a weak 39 percent of the vote in the first round of the primary on June 5 for this Montgomery-area seat. But Bright, who grabbed 28 percent, will need to convince enough voters that Roby's 2016 vote against Trump was worse than his 2009 vote to make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House. That task has probably become a bit more difficult now.
● FL-27: Maria Elvira Salazar, a former Spanish-language TV journalist, has released a McLaughlin & Associates poll of the August GOP primary that gives her a 38-16 lead former Miami-Dade County Commissioner over former Bruno Barreiro. The release did not include any general election matchups in what is one of best Democratic pickup opportunities anywhere.
We're certainly no fans of McLaughlin & Associates' work or its choice of clients, but there's a much stronger sign that Barreiro's campaign is not in good shape at all. Barreiro resigned the county commission seat he'd held for 20 years in the spring and his wife, Zoraida Barreiro, ran in Tuesday's special election to succeed him. However, Zoraida Barreiro ended up losing to Democrat Eileen Higgins 53-47 in an upset, flipping the commission to a Democratic majority.
Bruno Barreiro's congressional campaign sent his wife $95,000 for her losing race, even though he had just a modest $421,000 in the bank at the end of March. However, the optics off the defeat may be far more important than the financial cost. The Miami Herald wrote afterwards that there were serious doubts among Miami politicos that Barreiro could hold onto his donors and voters ahead of the primary.
● ME-02, WV-03: On Friday, the DCCC announced that they were adding Jared Golden and Richard Ojeda to their Red to Blue list. Golden only learned late Wednesday that he'd won the primary in Maine's 2nd District, so it's not a surprise they've now inducted him.
However, Ojeda, who is seeking West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District, is more of an eyebrow raiser. This coal-country seat is ancestrally blue, but Trump carried it 73-23. However, Monmouth made waves on Wednesday when they released a poll that, depending on the model they used, found Ojeda ahead of Republican Carol Miller by anywhere between 2 and 9 points. Interestingly, Miller's campaign didn't even act like they thought the poll was off. They instead put out a statement just tying Ojeda to national Democrats and saying that they were "confident West Virginians will say no to the same old liberal special interest candidate."
● NH-01: Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter surprised everyone when she announced she would retire from this swing seat in October, but it didn't take long for a very crowded Democratic primary to develop to replace her.
Eleven Democrats ended up filing, and the early frontrunner looks like Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. Pappas has been touted as a rising star for years, and he has the support of Sen. Maggie Hassan and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. The state National Education Association backed him in March and the State Employees Association endorsed him this month, which gives him the support of the two largest unions in the state as well as a number of smaller groups. Pappas would also be the state's first openly-gay member of Congress.
However, Pappas isn't the best-funded candidate in the primary. That honor goes to Iraq War Marine veteran and former Department of Veterans Affairs official Maura Sullivan, who held a wide $697,000 to $339,000 cash-on-hand edge over Pappas at the end of March. Sullivan also has EMILY's List and VoteVets in her corner. Sullivan only moved to New Hampshire last year, however, and she considered a House bid in her native Illinois at the start of this cycle.
The only other Democrat who had more than $100,000 in the bank at the end of March was state Rep. Mark MacKenzie, who had $115,000 to spend after mostly self-funding his campaign. MacKenzie led the state chapter of the AFL-CIO from 1990 to 2015, and they and several other labor groups are in his corner. Naomi Andrews, who has served as Shea-Porter's chief of staff and campaign manager, entered the race in May with the retiring congresswoman's endorsement.
The candidate with the most national name-recognition is Levi Sanders, a son of Bernie Sanders. However, many of the Vermont senator's political allies are backing other candidates, and Bernie Sanders has refused to endorse his son. The younger Sanders also hasn't tapped into his father's fundraising network either, and he had just $10,000 in the bank at the end of March. It also doesn't help that he doesn't live anywhere close to the 1st District, and he's faced lots of questions about his past social media outbursts.
A few other local politicians are in: businessman Deaglan McEachern; former Somersworth Mayor Lincoln Soldati; state Rep. Mindi Messmer; and Iraq War Army veteran Terence O'Rourke; as well as two other candidates who appear to be Some Dudes. None of these candidates look like they have the resources or major support to pull off an upset in September, but weird things can always happen in very crowded races.
While Obama and Trump each only narrowly carried this seat, it's going to be a tough GOP pickup in a year where they're largely on the defensive; it doesn't help Team Red that New Hampshire tends to swing wildly depending on the political climate, and this year the wind is very much not at the GOP's back. National Republicans initially showed some interest in state Sen. Andy Sanborn, but he's struggled with fundraising for months. Sanborn boosted his war chest in 2018 after he loaned his campaign $250,000, however, which gave him $496,000 to spend at the end of March.
Former state Liquor Commission official Eddie Edwards is also in, but he had just $160,000 in the bank after about a year on the campaign trail. Technology executive Bruce Crochetiere announced he would run in May, and he's pledged to self-fund at least $500,000.
● NH-02: Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster won re-election last cycle by a surprisingly narrow 50-45 margin as her seat was moving from 54-45 Obama to 49-46 Clinton, but she should have much less to worry about this cycle. Still, a few noteworthy Republicans ended up filing.
The candidate with the most money at the end of March was physician Stewart Levenson, who earned news coverage as a whistleblower regarding inadequate conditions at the Manchester Veterans Administration Medical Center. Levenson, who has mostly been self-funding his bid, had a $242,000 in the bank compared to state Rep. Steve Negron's $55,000. Former state Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, who recently finished a deployment with the Navy, has been a sought after-GOP candidate here for years, but she had just $35,000 to spend and has plenty of liabilities. Former Hillsborough County Treasurer Bob Burns also entered the race at the end of May.
Kuster herself is a very strong fundraiser, and she had a $2.6 million war chest.
● NY-02: On Friday, EMILY's List endorsed business consultant Liuba Grechen Shirley ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary. Grechen Shirley faces Suffolk County Legislator and 2016 nominee DuWayne Gregory for the nomination to take on longtime GOP Rep. Pete King.
● NY-11: The GOP firm Remington Research is out with a poll of Tuesday's very nasty GOP primary, and they give Rep. Dan Donovan a 47-40 lead over former Rep. Mike Grimm. Remington tells us this poll wasn't done for a client, though the New York Times' Shane Goldmacher notes that they're affiliated with the consultant group Axiom, which is owned by Donovan political consultant Jeff Roe. The pollster told Goldmacher in response that "Remington is an independent firm. We have unique internal clients," and that Axiom doesn't "approve or disapprove what we do." This poll is the first survey we've seen here in weeks. Siena released a poll in early June showing Grimm ahead 47-37, but much of that poll was done before Donald Trump endorsed Donovan.
● NY-12: Tuesday's Democratic primary for this safely blue seat on Manhattan's affluent Upper East Side has been a very expensive affair, with attorney and hotel executive Suraj Patel outspending longtime Rep. Carolyn Maloney $695,000 to $415,000 from April 1 to June 6. However, Politico reports that Patel launched his first TV ad buy on Friday, and he's only putting five-figures behind it. The commercial doesn't mention Maloney and instead has lots of shots of Patel in the city declaring that he's the son of immigrants and Trump "is trying to make stories like my family's impossible."
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